Carlos Gonzalez Rumors
The Rockies were one of the most aggressive teams in baseball in terms of extensions last offseason. They locked six of their players up on multiyear deals, including two contracts worth $80MM or more.
It’s still too early to say with much authority that the deals failed or succeeded, but Troy Tulowitzki’s contract doesn’t expire until 2020 at the earliest and that’s a long wait, so let's check in on the deals now. The early verdict? Nearly five months into the season, the Rockies’ new deals are going well, largely because their biggest investments are looking good. That in itself doesn't justify the moves, but it's certainly better than the alternative.
Tulowitzki (ten years, $157.75MM), Carlos Gonzalez (seven years, $80MM), Matt Lindstrom (two years, $6.6MM), Jason Hammel (two years, $7.75MM), Rafael Betancourt (two years, $8.02MM) and Matt Belisle (two years, $6.125MM) all signed long-term last winter. Conventional wisdom says multiyear deals for relievers and megadeals for players already under long-term control aren’t the most prudent ways of spending money, especially for a mid-market team. Nevertheless, the Rockies went ahead with the moves and they’re going well so far this year.
It would be hard to argue that Tulowitzki isn’t the best shortstop in the game. Gonzalez has boosted his walk rate, lowered his strikeout rate and, thanks to a recent hot streak that has included seven home runs in 12 days, raised his season line to .289/.360/.523. Betancourt, Belisle and Lindstrom (now on the DL) have each pitched at least 43 2/3 innings with at least 6.2 K/9, no more than 2.3 BB/9 and an ERA of 3.41 or below. Even Hammel, who just lost his rotation spot to Alex White, provided Colorado with three months’ worth of solid starts before faltering in July and August.
The extensions look good so far, despite the Rockies’ disappointing 63-68 record. At this point, that’s all Colorado could hope for. But every player they locked up could have been on the team this year even if GM Dan O’Dowd hadn’t inked them to long-term deals, so the final verdict on the 2010-11 offseason deals will have to wait for another decade or so.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new Full Count video up, so let's recap...
- Two GMs tell Rosenthal that the Yankees are more worried about Mariano Rivera's nagging triceps injury than they're letting on. If true, they could increase their efforts to acquire a setup man, though they're hopeful Rafael Soriano will be back from his elbow injury soon after the All-Star break.
- The Mets have called the Yankees and offered Francisco Rodriguez according to one source, but they're only interested if the Mets call them at the deadline and offer K-Rod at a minimal price.
- The starting pitching market could soon heat up. The Rockies are getting calls about Ubaldo Jimenez and several other players, though they're not shopping their ace right-hander. Rosenthal says they'll listen on anyone besides Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Jimenez is under contract through 2014 (though he can void that option if traded) and could return a significant package of the players, so the team would give a trade serious consideration.
- Don't be surprised if the Marlins listen on Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez. Florida will try to get back into contention, though they'll likely entertain offers for both pitchers if that doesn't happen. Nolasco is under contract though 2013, Sanchez under team control through 2012.
- The Blue Jays offer perhaps the best value on the bullpen market. Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel, and Jon Rauch aren't in the same class as Heath Bell, though all three could pitch better outside of the AL East and have club options for 2012. They all figure to qualify as Type-B free agents as well.
- The Rockies' offer of a seven-year, $80MM extension was probably less than Gonzalez could have earned between arbitration and potential free agency several years down the road, writes Heyman, but Gonzalez accepted it anyway.
- Gonzalez, who grew up poor in Venezuela, is exceptionally mature and humble for his age, according to Heyman, and rather than chase top dollar, he preferred the security of the long-term deal with a team that's he comfortable with.
- Gonzalez had the full support of his agent, Scott Boras, whose clients typically go to free agency rather than signing extensions. Boras provided Gonzalez with the information indicating that Gonzalez could probably make more money if he waited till free agency.
- Boras praised Gonzalez for handling and analyzing the information, noting that Gonzalez turned down three or four offers before accepting the one that he did.
- Turning down top dollar is not new for Gonzalez, however. He accepted a $150K bonus as a 16-year-old international free agent when he could have demanded as much as $1MM, writes Heyman.
- Gonzalez is a close friend of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who also signed a long-term extension with Colorado this offseason. Tulowitzki said part of the reason he signed his extension is because Gonzalez had told him that he wanted to sign long-term, too.
In January, the Rockies accomplished a feat thought to be impossible: they locked up Carlos Gonzalez, who is represented by Scott Boras. Despite Boras providing CarGo with "actuary tables that would show Gonzalez's earning power if he would stay healthy and productive," the Rockies were able to buy out three free agent seasons at less than $18MM per year.
Gonzalez's seven-year, $80MM deal set a record for the largest deal signed by a player with between two and three years service time. The contract topped Hanley Ramirez's six-year, $70MM contract, signed nearly three years ago. Other recent deals for two-plus players include Justin Upton's six-year, $51.25MM contract and Jay Bruce's six-year, $51MM pact. A few details on the four contracts:
- Gonzalez is paid $23MM for his three arbitration years plus $53MM over the course of three free agent seasons ($17.67MM per). There are no option years, so CarGo could reach free agency at age 32 and score one more huge deal.
- Ramirez gets $23.5MM for his three arbitration years and plus $46.5MM over three free agent seasons ($15.5MM per). His deal also has no options, and he can reach free agency at age 30.
- Upton will earn $20.75MM for his three arbitration years plus $28.75MM over two free agent seasons ($14.375MM per). The deal has no options, and he can be a free agent at age 28.
- Bruce will make $25.25MM over four arbitration years plus $25.5MM guaranteed over two free agent seasons ($12.75MM per). In the likely event Bruce's 2017 club option is exercised, that's $37.5MM over three free agent seasons or $12.5MM per. If the option is exercised he'll reach free agency at age 30.
CarGo essentially matches Ramirez's arbitration earnings and tops his free agent take by a total of $6.5MM. In one sense Boras deserves credit for brokering the largest deal ever for a two-plus player, but in another Hanley's agents at WMG win since their deal came almost three years earlier.
Though the Rockies paid top dollar to do Gonzalez's extension now, the savings could still be significant. Further along in their careers, Ryan Howard and Joey Votto required $44MM and $38MM for their three arbitration years, respectively. Howard later gave up five free agent seasons at $25MM each, so paying CarGo $16MM in 2015 could be a downright bargain if he remains an elite player.
For my take on the Rockies' other huge extension, the Troy Tulowitzki contract, click here.
It's still early in Arizona, where the five NL West teams train, but that won't stop us from providing updates on some of those clubs. Here's the latest...
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy repeated that he's open-minded about who ends up playing left field in 2011, according to MLB.com's Chris Haft. Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Mark DeRosa and Nate Schierholtz are all candidates to play left for San Francisco.
- Edgar Renteria told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that he called the Giants' $1MM offer "a total disrespect" because of pride, not money. The 2010 World Series MVP went on to sign a $2.1MM deal with Cincinnati.
- Carlos Gonzalez told Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post that he doesn't expect to be overwhelmed by the attention that comes with national endorsement deals and his new $80MM contract with the Rockies.
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers explained to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he intends "to build [the Arizona] organization around young pitching." Pitchers like Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy and Jarrod Parker figure to be important contributors for the D'Backs' staff going forward. Kennedy, who was often grouped with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes while playing in the Yankees' system, cautions against lumping pitchers together, though.
The Rockies are officially announcing that they have signed Carlos Gonzalez to a seven-year, $80MM extension. The deal will keep Gonzalez in the Rockies' lineup through 2017 along with Troy Tulowitzki, who is under contract through 2020.
Augusto Cárdenas of Diario Panorama explains that Gonzalez receives a $3MM signing bonus and will earn $1MM in 2011, $5MM in 2012, $7.5MM in 2013, $10.5MM in 2014, $16MM in 2015, $17MM in 2016 and $20MM in 2017.
Gonzalez, 25, finished third in MVP voting last year, after leading the National League in hits and batting average. He clubbed 34 homers and hit .336/.376/.598 in 636 plate appearances. Gonzalez split his time between the three outfield positions in 2010 and won his first Gold Glove.
Gonzalez is not yet arbitration eligible, so the contract covers one pre-arb season, three arbitration seasons and three free agent years. Agent Scott Boras has a tendency to let his clients hit the open market, but this deal will postpone Gonzalez's free agency until he's 32. However, Boras proved with the Jayson Werth deal that it's possible for early thirties outfielders to cash in via free agency.
Gonzalez will recieve an "assignment bonus" if he is dealt during the seven-year term of the contract, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. However, a Rockies source told Heyman, "we aren't trading him." Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweetsthat the provision will pay him $2MM if he is traded.
Let's take a look at some Rockies-related tidbits..
- The Rockies like Brian Fuentes but the left-hander is looking to close and also looking for roughly $5MM per year. Colorado isn't looking to shell out that kind of money for the 35-year-old, tweets Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
- After resolving his visa issues, Carlos Gonzalez arrived in Denver today and will take a physical tomorrow to finalize his seven-year, $80MM contract, Renck writes. The Rockies will likely hold a presser on Tuesday to announce the deal.
- The Rockies lost interest in pitcher Scott Kazmir once they re-signed Jorge de la Rosa, Renck tweets.
- One reader asks Renck via Twitter if the Rockies are still interested in reliever Joe Beimel. It appears that other clubs have more interest in the veteran as Colorado hasn't talked to his representation lately.
As Cooperstown welcomes Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven into the Hall of Fame, some of these news items concern a few of Alomar and Blyleven's former teams and teammates...
- Jim Thome is said to be looking for a one-year deal worth as much as $8MM, reports ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill. Thome's strong 2010 season notwithstanding, that would represent a whopping increase over the $1.5MM contract he signed with Minnesota last year. The Twins have been considered the favorites to re-sign Thome, but if the team balks at that asking price, Churchill suggests they could instead turn to Vladimir Guerrero as a DH option. Churchill adds that Tampa Bay could also be interested in Guerrero if the price is right.
- Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos "conceded that it's looking more likely that" Jose Bautista will be Toronto's Opening Day third baseman rather than its right fielder, reports Shi Davidi of The Canadian Press. Anthopoulos noted that the club is still looking at other third base/right field options and also may still be in the market for another reliever. The Blue Jays have added Octavio Dotel, Chad Cordero and Wil Ledezma to their bullpen mix over the past two days.
- Carlos Gonzalez had a lengthy meeting with agent Scott Boras in December to discuss a possible extension with the Rockies, so the agreed-upon deal wasn't at all "an impulse decision," tweets The Denver Post's Troy Renck.
- Also from Renck (Twitter link), the Rockies are "not totally out" of the bidding for Joe Beimel, but other clubs "have shown stronger interest." We heard last month that the Rockies weren't one of several teams who had made Beimel a contract offer.
- The Pirates' desire to add left-handed relievers has only grown in the wake of Ledezma going to Toronto, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Speaking of the Pirates, Bucs president Frank Coonelly discussed the team's relief options and other topics in his monthly chat with fans on MLB.com.
- With so many intriguing designated hitter possibilities on the market, Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog notes that it's an unfortunate time for the Yankees to be shifting Jorge Posada into the full-time DH spot.
The Rockies have locked up Troy Tulowitzki through 2020 and they've agreed to a deal that should keep Carlos Gonzalez in Denver through 2017. Both are powerful young hitters capable of playing premium defensive positions at a high level, so any team would want them.
Tulowitzki, 26, finished fifth in MVP voting in 2009 and 2010. He plays Gold Glove defense and has an electrifying bat capable of carrying a team (remember those 15 September home runs?). Gonzalez, also a Gold Glove winner, is just 25. He won a batting title last year and hit 34 home runs. Few teams have two elite young players like Tulo and CarGo, so it's not surprising that GM Dan O'Dowd wanted to keep them around.
But the Rockies didn't have to offer Tulowitzki and Gonzalez massive extensions to keep the players in Colorado. They were both under team control through 2014 before they agreed to extensions. You could argue that the Rockies took on unnecessary risk with their recent deals. It begs the question...
There’s word that many Angels people were in favor of offering Carl Crawford a seven-year deal worth $142MM or so, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Red Sox won the bidding for the All-Star left fielder with a $142MM offer that left the Angels without one of their offseason targets. Owner Arte Moreno has said that his team never made Crawford an offer, but he acknowledged the Angels' interest. Here are the rest of Heyman’s rumors:
- There are thought to be one or two teams looking at Carl Pavano other than the Twins and Nationals, according to Heyman. The Mariners and Rangers have been linked to Pavano this winter, but it's not clear if those clubs are currently interested.
- Heyman reports that the Rockies are still trying to lock up Carlos Gonzalez. Meanwhile Troy Renck of the Denver Post hears that the Rockies could move closer to an extension with the 25-year-old this week